Financial issues and decisions dominated the June meeting of the Pine Cove Water District last week. The matters ranged from the routine to completion, and one had to be deferred.
The water rate increases approved in May were re-approved with language modifying and implementing when customer bills will be mailed, their due date and when late fees will be applied.
“All bills are due and payable the 1st of the following month. Any bill not paid by the 1st of the following month will be deemed DELINQUENT and subject to a $15.00 Late Fee,” reads the new language.
This applies to the next bills, which will be mailed in early August. They will be due Sept. 1 and a late fee applied Oct. 1. A reminder will be sent in the first few days of the following month.
“Past language seemed to create two due dates,” Holldber said. “We’ll go through a couple of billing cycles, send some special correspondence, if necessary, and explanation to ensure customers understand.”
The board also officially adopted its fiscal year 2018-19 budget. Revenues are expected to increase $63,000 to a projected total of $975,000. The new water rates are expected to generate another $35,000. This is a 6.7-percent growth for a total of $560,000, which represents 57 percent of PCWD’s total revenue.
The other two larger revenue contributors — property taxes and leases — are both expected to increase about $10,000.
Expenses are estimated to total $950,000, resulting in another $110,000 for reserves. Building the reserve balances was one of the primary goals of the rate changes. As PCWD’s Engineer John Egan recommended, the district has to begin another cycle of inspecting, and possibly re-coating and repairs to its storage tanks, continuing pipeline replacement and possibly replacing meters.
The budget includes money for an actuarial evaluation of post-employment benefits and to conduct a survey of customer incomes. The latter will help PCWD’s eligibility for more state grants and possibly a discount on state inspection fees.
The salary account increases 4.8 percent or $13,000, and retirement costs, payable to Cal PERS, increases 20 percent to $90,000.
In 2018-19, pipeline work will continue but funding decreases because Holldber was able to purchase pipe and equipment last year. Preliminary work on the storage tanks will begin and cost about $25,000. The budget also includes the first of three $28,000 payments for the new tractor.
Both the new rate resolution and budget were approved unanimously, 4-0, with Director Lou Padula absent.
The public hearing for the annual standby fees was canceled. The board scheduled a special meeting on Monday, June 18, to review and adopt the resolution for the 2018-19 standby fees. The fee will continue to be $30 per acre. The public hearing will be held during the district’s August meeting.
In water business, Holldber reported that May’s water production was 2.7 million gallons, which was more than 500,000 gallons less than May 2017.
However, he noted, “Last year was when that guy was ‘borrowing’ water,” referring to the illegal use of PCWD water to cultivate marijuana in the forest.
But he also added that the groundwater level of the monitoring well was rising in May 2017 and last month it dropped 4 feet.
A larger-than-normal attendance, but considerably fewer people than at the May fee hearing, was at the meeting. One person suggested moving the board meetings to the evenings. Several directors agreed with the purpose but replied that evening meetings had not attracted greater public attendance than the Wednesday morning time.
Resident Marge Muir suggested that the board increase the funds available for rebates to customers installing water-conservation appliances, such as low-flow toilets. The budget includes an approved $3,000 for this purpose, and it indicated that that amount would be increased if the customer requests exceeded the budget, which has not occurred in recent years.
For fiscal year 2017-18, the board had budgeted $5,000 for conservation and rebates. Through the first three quarters of the fiscal year, about $1,100 had been paid for this purpose.
“We’ve been offering the rebate since I’ve been here and way before that,” replied Director Diana Luther. “People should know it’s available. We can’t force them to do it.”
Earlier during the public comment period, Pine Cove customer Jeff Smith read a letter to the board, which complimented its actions and concern for the resident’s water supply.
“I expect and require that my home have reliable water service that does not degrade its value. I’m grateful PCWD has taken the lead on hydrant and fire suppression system upgrades in this state,” was one of Smith’s comments.